Saturday, May 18, 2024

Principles of Feeding Rabbit and Feed Resources

Feeding rabbit with good nutrition is the single most important aspect of production, well- nourished rabbits can better resist diseases and recover from environmental stresses and any shortcomings by the producer.

The Digestive System and Nutrient Utilization

Principles of Feeding Rabbit and Feed Resources
Fig: The digestive system of the rabbit

1. Mouth and teeth

The rabbit’s teeth are shown in the image below, the incisors are for cutting and the premolars and molars are for grinding. The front surface of the incisors has a thick layer of enamel which forms a sharp edge at the cutting point of the teeth.

The incisors are said to be rooted, meaning that they continue to grow throughout the rabbit’s life as they are worn down by chewing. The food is mixed with saliva as it is ground by the molars to reduce its particle size.

After this first processing period, the food is swallowed and passed down the esophagus to the stomach.

Principles of Feeding Rabbit and Feed Resources
Fig: Mouth and teeth

2. Stomach and small intestine

The stomach represents about 40% of the total volume of the digestive system. Food in the stomach is exposed to acidity and some enzyme digestion begins. Weak muscular contractions in the stomach push the food into the first loop of the small intestine, the duodenum.

The food is first bathed in bile which enters via the bile duct. Bile is produced in the liver and is stored in the gall bladder. The bile salts assist in the digestion of the fats in the food.

As the food passes further along the duodenum it is mixed with enzymes produced in the pancreas and which enter via the pancreatic duct.

Enzyme digestion is rapid and food proteins are broken down to amino acids which are absorbed through the intestinal wall into the blood system.

Fatty acids, glycerol, glucose, and other simple sugars are the end products of fat and carbohydrate digestion and these are also absorbed as the food passes along the small intestine.

Read Also: The Different Breeds of Rabbits

3. Caecum and large intestine

The rabbit is sometimes referred to as a hind-gut fermenter, meaning that food is broken down by bacteria at the end of the digestive system. The major site of this breakdown is the caecum.

The large caecum has absorbing and secretory cells throughout its large area. The caecum contains many bacteria that grow and multiply on the partly- digested food.

These bacteria are very important because they synthesize B vitamins, particularly thiamin, and because they break down plant fiber.

The breakdown results in the production of acetic, propionic, and butyric fatty acids, which are absorbed from the caecum and large intestines and used as sources of energy by the rabbit.

The rabbit produces two types of fecal pellets, one soft type containing many bacteria which is re-eaten, and one that is hard and passed out in the normal way.

Water is reabsorbed throughout the caecum and large intestine. This results in the relatively hard, dry fecal pellets which are characteristic of rabbit feces.

Read Also: Rabbit Feeds and Feeding Guide

From the above, it is clear that the function of the digestive system is to transform the digested food into chemical, physical, and biological processes in such a way that the organism can use the nutrient of the food for maintenance, growth, and reproduction.

The digestive system of the rabbit is well adapted for the utilization of roughages and feed of plant origin. The digestive system occupies a large portion of the body cavity.

The development of the digestive system is almost completed at 9 weeks of age, the caecum and the colon start to develop around 3-5 weeks of age when feeding ingestion other than milk starts to be significant and a micro floral population becomes important in those organs.

The size of a different part of the digestive system varies with age, breed, physiological status, and type of feed given to the rabbit. The amount of time the feed stays in the digestive system affects the time of enzyme and microorganism activity.

This time is 17-18 hrs. The longest retention time occurs in the stomach and in the caecum. Retention time in the small intestine is relatively low.

Read Also: Complete Biodegradable Waste Management Guide


Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with over 12 years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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